Environment as a discipline needs to be studied at two levels
- Environmental science
- Environmental Governance
The above topic is related Environmental Governance specifically related Biodiversity Management in India and its efficacy.
NTCA Report on killing of Tigress Avni
Placing it in syllabus
- Distribution of tigers
- Project Tiger
- Man-animal conflict
Tiger Conservation in India
The Role of the Tiger in the ecosystem
Tiger, being at the apex of the food chain, can be considered as the indicator of the stability of the eco-system. For a viable tiger population, a habitat should possess a good prey base, which in turn will depend on undisturbed forest vegetation. Thus, ‘Project Tiger’, is basically the conservation of the entire eco-system and apart from tigers, all other wild animals also have increased in number in the project areas9.
India holds over half the world’s tiger population. According to the latest government tiger census report released on 20th January, 2015 by NTCA, the current tiger population is estimated at 2,226 (ranging between a minimum of 1,945 to a maximum of 2,491). The results included tiger populations found in 19 states in India.
Reasons for decline
The threat of poaching has been haunting the wildlife of India since ages. Even after the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, the threat of poaching has not been totally eliminated. The rampant poaching of Wildlife and its products are primarily driven by demands in the international markets. A deep rooted belief in the healing powers of tiger bones in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan has accelerated the trade in tiger bones in those countries.
Loss of natural habitat and prey depletion
There has been decline in extent and quality of wildlife habitats because of encroachments, delayed settlement of rights, fragmentation of habitats and diversion for development projects .
Wherever prey-base is adequate and good protection measures are in place tiger populations reach high numbers simply because the species breeds quickly. Prey species itself depend on conditions of the habitat.
Man-animal conflict is another major factor that affects the big cats. As humans move deeper into the territory of tigers, chances of conflict between both sides increase many fold. Men and livestock often become the victim of tiger attacks. This infuriates villagers who resort to revenge killing.
Various diseases also take their toll silently on the wildlife, including the predators. Many animals die and there is no way to ascertain the cause of their death. There are certain diseases that spread like epidemic and play havoc. Diseases like Feline Panleucopania (highly contagious and can be fatal), tuberculosis, sarcosystis, etc. have led to the decimation of many animals including tigers.
Frequent human involvement and pollution of modern transport system have invaded the peaceful homelands of the wildlife throughout the world. These tourist activities have adversely affected both the flora and the fauna and particularly the large carnivore animals that require peaceful and clean environment for feeding and reproduction.
Releasing of chemicals and other toxic effluents into the water bodies has led to poisoning of the water. The animals and birds drinking such water face a fatal threat.
The climate changes taking place in the world today, are affecting not only humans, but also the wildlife. The natural habitats as well as migration patterns of the animals and birds are experiencing disturb patterns.
Project Tiger is the most famous wildlife conservation project of India, which was launched in 1972 to protect the diminishing population of Indian tigers. As recently as 1970, the hunting of tigers was legal in India and this majestic animal was hunted by the erstwhile royals and elites for pleasure and its beautiful skin. According to various estimates, during the 1950s and early 1960s, over 3,000 tigers lost their lives to trophy hunters. In the beginning of the 1970s, the tiger population in India was estimated to be around 1,800, shocking and jolting the concerned authorities to formulate an immediate plan to save Indian tigers and the result was the launch of Project Tiger in 1972.
The aim of Project Tiger is to ensure a viable population of tiger in India for economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values and to preserve areas of biological importance as natural heritage. Project tiger scheme includes wildlife management, protection measures and site specific eco development to reduce the dependency on tiger reserve resources
* Elimination of all forms of human exploitation and disturbance from the core and rationalisation of such activities in the buffer.
* Limitation of the habitat management to repair damage done by man.
* Researching facts about habitat and wild animals and carefully monitoring changes in flora and fauna
The National Tiger Conservation Authority was launched in 2005, following recommendations of the Tiger Task Force. It was given statutory status by 2006 amendment of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The Authority consists of eight experts (who holds experience in the wildlife conservation and welfare of people including the tribes), and three members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha). The Authority prepares the annual report, which is laid in the Parliament along with the Audit Report.
Powers and functions of NTCA include:
- To approve the tiger conservation plan prepared by the State Government under sub-section (3) of section 38V of this Act;
- To evaluate and assess various aspects of sustainable ecology and disallow any ecologically unsustainable land use such as, mining, industry and other projects within the tiger reserves;
- To provide for management focus and measures for addressing conflicts of men and wild animal and to emphasize on co-existence in forest areas outside the National Parks, sanctuaries or tiger reserve, in the working plan code;
- To provide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species, status of habitats, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, reports on untoward happenings and such other management aspects as it may deem fit including future plan conservation;
- To ensure critical support including scientific, information technology and legal support for better implementation of the tiger conservation plan;
- To facilitate ongoing capacity building programme for skill development of officers and staff of tiger reserves.
India has a Memorandum of Understanding with Nepal on controlling trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation, apart from a protocol on tiger conservation with China. The process is on for bilateral protocol with Bangladesh, Bhutan & Myanmar. n A Global Tiger Forum of Tiger Range Countries has been created for addressing international issues related to tiger conservation
Test yourself: Mould your thoughts
Briefly explain the threats to Tiger population in India. Also examine the efficacy of conservation efforts made for them since independence.